Vinyl Record Sales Reach Their Highest Levels Since 1991

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Photo Credit: Jace & Afsoon

Vinyl record sales reached their highest levels since 1991 during the week following Black Friday, according to newly released figures from Nielsen/MRC Data.

Between Friday, November 27th, and Thursday, December 3rd, vinyl record sales experienced a 56 percent year-over-year boost, per MRC, with customers having purchased some 1.253 million units across the weeklong stretch. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impacts thereof, the impressive figure represents the single largest vinyl record sales volume of any week since MRC Data’s 1991 founding – as well as the second time that weekly sales have crossed one million units.

MRC attributes the record-setting sales benchmark to interest drummed up by Record Store Day and continued promotional efforts from big-name retailers. Harry Styles’ Fine Line ranked first in vinyl album sales, with 15,000 units moved, against The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas in second place. (Guaraldi crafted the music for a number of Peanuts specials and the 1969 feature film A Boy Named Charlie Brown.)

Queen’s Greatest Hits ranked third, followed by Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (the bestselling vinyl record of 2020’s initial six months, per MRC’s half-year report) and Taylor Swift’s surprise Folklore release, which debuted in late July.

Far from marking a once-off spike, the strong vinyl record sales ushered in by Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 appear to be just the latest byproduct of fans’ long-expanding interest in the medium. To be sure, vinyl sales hiked by nearly 20 percent (to over $500 million) in 2019, which signified the format’s 14th consecutive year of commercial growth. And even before the all-time-high weekly sales came to light, other evidence indicated that an increasing number of fans were purchasing records.

Vinyl sales jumped by 33.72 percent on Discogs, comparing 2020’s first six months with the opening half of 2019, and a combination vinyl record pressing facility, record store, recording studio, and bar/café, Citizen Vinyl, began welcoming fans and customers in September.

In Germany, vinyl record sales grew by north of 13 percent last year and accounted for more than five percent of overall recorded music sales. France experienced a commercial falloff in vinyl through January and June of 2020 – though the decline was decidedly less severe than that of other formats, and vinyl still accounted for one-third of all physical sales.

Also worth noting is that 2019 brought a massive uptick in vinyl record sales during Christmas week. Given fans’ clear-cut interest in vinyl during Black Friday, it’ll be particularly interesting to analyze consumers’ music-purchasing habits through the remainder of the holiday season.

2 Responses

  1. Bill Rosenblatt

    You can’t conclude much from Discogs’ numbers this year compared to last year. The pandemic severely restricted access to physical record stores. This caused many of them to put their inventory up on Discogs, or to put more up than they had before; and it cause vinyl fans to buy online rather than in stores. I’m sure vinyl is continuing to do well, but this year vs. last year’s figures are apples and oranges.